27 Nov

Waylaid plans and Picture House plans.

Allanna Brough, Archive

So yesterday it rained all day, perfect weather for research. My plan for the day was to complete the Bio for an original shareholder, James Macalister Hall Junior who bought 100 shares in 1912. Tracking down the information and building this particular family tree was like trying to complete a jigsaw when there are pieces missing! This had taken days and days of researching but I knew I had enough notes and source information to put his Biography together.

That was my plan…

While having a coffee break, staring out at the pouring rain, I remembered the old plan showing the Picture House plot that Robin had shown us last Friday. It appeared to show who had sold the land for the Picture House. There were some names and signatures on the plan. One of the signatures was Grace Macalister Hall. Coincidence?

Under the layout of the Cinema plot was a hand written note: “..sketch referred to in the foregoing Disposition by Mrs. Jeanie McEachran or McQueen, residing in Campbeltown, widow of Archibald McQueen, retired Shipbuilder, Campbeltown in favour of the Picture House.”

McQueen was not a name I had come across before. No mention of him in any other documents related to the Picture House so far. Any thoughts of completing the Macalister Hall bio were put on hold until I found out who Archibald McQueen was and why was Grace Macalister Hall’s signature on the paper?

In 1841, Archibald McQueen was living at the Old Quay Head in Campbeltown, the street that is now Hall Street. He became a Shipwright, a master Ship Builder and Ship Owner. He was obviously very successful because by 1891 he applied for a building warrant to build himself a villa “Knockbay” on the Kilkerran Road in Campbeltown. This is now a “C” category listed building. The 1891 Census lists his occupation as Carpenter Ship Owner and Magistrate. The 1903 Post Office Directory has him listed as a Justice of the Peace, still living at Knockbay.

Finding out about his successful career still didn’t explain his link with the Picture House so I went digging a bit more…

In 1899, Archibald McQueen of Knockbay, made an application dated 10th May to build two tenements of shops and dwelling houses at the Old Quay Head. Those “tenements” became known as Royal Avenue Mansions.

The Campbeltown Courier of 1901 states, “Campbeltown can now boast quite a number of imposing buildings, but there is none which takes the eye more readily than the handsome new block of shops and dwelling-houses erected at the Old Quay Head by ex-Bailie McQueen. The building is of 4 stories and is of a most pleasing style of architecture, its appearance from the front being very attractive.”

So, Archibald McQueen owned the land once known as Old Quay Head but is now called Hall Street, the location of the Picture House.

And Grace Macalister Hall? I’m still working on that because there are three generations of Grace Macalister Halls…two generations living at Old Quay Head. There was no visible date on the old plan but I have narrowed it down to two possible women, one being an aunt and the other a niece. I do know that one Grace was a sister to James Macalister Hall senior who funded the Burnett building next to the Picture House, and the other Grace was his niece who inherited the Tangy Estate.

Today’s plan…finish the biography for James Macalister Hall!

Image 1: The view of Hall Street before the Picture House was built (Valentines & Sons)
Image 2: photocopy of original Title Deed Plan as held in the Picture House archive – can we find the original?

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